Where we work
We work on the Greek island of Samos to support the most vulnerable members of of the refugee community.
The situation on Samos
Originally built for 650, the camp at its highest point housed 9,000 people in 2019. The situation has changed considerably in recent months, due to a concerted effort to reduce the number of people living on the Greek islands.
There are now, approximately, 1,300 people living in the Samos camp (according to UNHCR figures from June 2021). This is reduction is a result of huge transfers to the mainland, as well as a severe decrease in the number of people arriving on the islands.
Despite this decrease, the camp on Samos remains unfit for human habitation. Amenities have been stretched to breaking point over the years, and showers no longer work, bathroom doors do not lock and toilets overflow with human waste.
Degrading, unsanitary and overcrowded, the camp can no longer house the entire refugee population. Many make shelters outside the camp’s barbed wire fences, in an area of scrubland known as the ‘jungle’.
Here there is no electricity or running water, and with the path to camp being unlit, the use of any facilities at night is unsafe and impossible. The hillside that houses the camp and the so-called ‘jungle’ is also exposed to the elements; gale force winds, torrential rains and freezing temperatures in the winter and in the summer, blistering heat.
In addition to this, there is no official waste disposal unit in the camp, meaning rubbish and refuse collects between people’s shelters, inviting rats, snakes and other vermin to plague the lives of the camp’s residents.
Food on Samos
The food situation only exacerbates these dire and inhumane living conditions. Those who do receive a food parcel are given partially defrosted microwaveable meals. These are regularly past their sell-by-dates, with mould gathering on the top, and the contents crawling with maggots.
Project Armonia was established in July 2019 to address this failure. Our free-restaurant serves warm, nutritious meals to those who need it most, such as pregnant women, nursing mothers, the elderly, disabled people, and those no longer eligible to receive food in camp.
Recently, however, our target groups have evolved to meet the needs of the refugee community. People who have their asylum cases rejected or accepted are no longer eligible to receive support from UNHCR. This means they receive no financial assistance and cannot get food in the camp.
As a result of the concerted effort to clear the camp’s on the islands, there are now many people with rejected or accepted asylum seeking cases. Accordingly, we have adjusted our target groups to support these demographics.
Media resources to learn more
People risk their lives to make the crossing to Europe, expecting safety. Instead, they are met with dangerous, unsanitary and deplorable conditions. If you want to know more about it, please find below links about the situation on Samos.
- ‘Worse than in Syria’ – Zenith, 07.06.2021
- Samos – a hotspot once more? – Action for Education
- Report on means to address the human rights of pushbacks of migrants – United Nations Human Rights Council, 12.05.2021
- EU sends mixed messages on Turkey as ‘safe’ haven – EU Observer, 09.06.2021
- EU powerhouses ask Greece to do more to take back migrants – Politico, 03.06.2021
- Frontex at Fault: European Border Force complicit in ‘illegal’ pushbacks – Bellningcat, 23.10.2020